Penetrate, with Jim Miller driving, won the first division of the William E. Miller Memorial last night at Rosecroft in a stakes-record-tying time of 1:57 and Meadow Ro Mar, with Joseph Scorsone, took the second division in 1:58 1/5. Each division was worth $115,000.
In the first division, Miller made no effort to gain the lead at the start of the race, instead allowing 4-to-5 favorite Flight Of Fire and Bobby Myers' Forward Thrust to make the early moves.
"He's a real lazy horse behind the gate," Miller said of Penetrate. "I didn't want to move to the lead and get hung."
Penetrate, a royally bred colt whom Miller purchased for $160,000 as a yearling, sat fifth at the quarter pole as the leaders cut fast fractions.
Forward Thrust hit the quarter in :28 1/5 as Steady Governor and Flight Of Fire pushed him from the outside.
Micky McNichol, determined to get the lead with Flight Of Fire, moved his colt three wide at the three-eighths pole. He paid a price with that maneuver, going past the half-mile in :56 4/5, a fast fraction for a horse who hadn't started in six weeks.
Miller moved Penetrate, the 3-to-1 second choice, out just before the half and made a three-wide move at the five-eighths pole in order to pass the tiring Steady Governor.
Penetrate then got a little luck by being able to race with cover in the backstretch behind Bib Roberts' Positive Yankee as Roberts took a shot at Flight Of Fire. Fire hit the three-quarters mark in 1:26 4/5.
Miller then made his final move. "When I went three wide at the top of the stretch, I knew I was going to win," he said. "This horse has a habit of digging in when he has to."
Penetrate easily passed Flight Of Fire to win by 1 1/2 lengths. The time of 1:57 also was a lifetime best for Penetrate. Mon Vieux, with Ron Waples driving, closed for second and Flight Of Fire faded to third.
The victory by Miller was his second in the Miller Memorial. In 1979, he won with Tijuana Taxi.
In the second division, Scorsone, driving Meadow Ro Mar, was forced to go three wide in the backstretch, just past the quarter, in order to avoid breaking horses.
Stargell Lobell racing second on the outside, hooked wheels, according to Scorsone, with Zephyr Almahurst at the front of the pack, which scattered the field.
Race favorite Witsends Wizard made an interference break at that point and was basically out of the race. Port Stanley, who drew the rail and had the lead, was the only colt not interfered with.
Scorsone said he saw the interfence coming and moved his horse three wide. Scorsone got the lead with Meadow Ro Mar by the half and held on to win by a nose over the fast-closing Ceviche with John Hogan. Port Stanley took third. Stargell Lobell pulled up after the accident and did not finish.